Sunday, June 29, 2008

Eat Your Veggies!

I'm always looking for innovative ways to eat more green veggies, especially in the summer months when I shy away from hot, cooked foods. In recent weeks I have made two of my favorite veggie salads, one with kale, one with broccoli, as well as a new one using roasted green beans. I also made a long time favorite, Confetti Corn Toss, which although absent of any green veggies, utilizes fresh corn, tomatoes, and mangoes, which are so plentiful right now at the market.

Kale Salad

1 bunch kale
1 large vidalia onion
10-12 sundried tomatoes (not oil packed)
10-12 kalamata olives, chopped
1 cup water
olive oil spray

Bring water to a boil and remove from heat. Place sundried tomatoes in water to rehydrate while you prepare the rest of the salad.

Tear kale leaves from stems into bite sized pieces. Set stems aside (discard if you don't want to use them, but I like the crunch they bring to this salad.) Wash leaves thoroughly allowing water to cling to leaves, then set aside. Wash stems thoroughly then place them in a bundle on your chopping board and slice them into 1/4 inch pieces. Set aside.

Cut onion into quarters and then thinly slice each quarter. Spray a large skillet with oil and heat on medium-high. Place onions in skillet and saute until golden brown and caramelized. Remove from skillet and set aside.

Saute chopped kale stems in skillet for a few minutes to soften, then set aside. Saute wet kale leaves in skillet on medium high until desired tenderness is reached then place in a bowl with cooked stems. Remove tomatoes from water and chop. Toss onions, tomatoes, and olives in a bowl with the kale and serve at room temperature or place in the fridge if serviing later. This salad really needs no dressing but if you do feel that it needs something, I suggest a light spray of Bragg's liquid aminos.

Roasted Green Beans with Marinated Button Mushrooms

Adapted from the original recipe which you can find by clicking here. I omitted the walnuts called for in the original recipe as I had none on hand. I also used half the amount of mushrooms and marinade called for in the recipe and roasted the green beans for 30 minutes instead of the 45 minutes suggested.

Broccoli Salad with Red Bell Pepper and Water Chestnuts

1 head broccoli, washed
1 red bell pepper, washed, seeded, and diced
1 can sliced water chestnuts, drained
4 Tbl rice vinegar
1 tsp toasted sesame oil (up to 1Tbl if you want more flavor)
1 Tbl minced garlic
2 tsp fresh ginger, grated or minced
sugar to taste (optional)

Cut broccoli florets from stems and set aside. Cut away peel from stems with a knife then slice peeled stems into 1/4 inch thick slices. Steam florets and stem pieces for 5 minutes then rinse with cold water to stop cooking process. Toss broccoli in a large bowl with red bell pepper and water chestnuts. Combine last 5 ingredients to make a light dressing and drizzle on salad. Serve at room temperature or chill for 3 hours, covered, before serving.

Confetti Corn Toss
adapted from a 12+ year old add for Del Monte canned corn

3 cups fresh cooked corn (I boiled 3 large ears and then cut the corn from the cobs)
1 1/2 cups cooked black beans
2 large tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 ripe mango, peeled and diced*
1/3 cup minced fresh cilantro
3 Tbs lime juice
1 1/2 tsp chile powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin

Combine the first 5 ingredients in a large bowl. Whisk together the last 3 ingredients in a separate bowl then pour over salad. Cover and chill about 3 hours before serving.
In place of mango you can use 1 (14 oz) can hearts of palm, drained and sliced, per the original recipe. This will give the salad a different flavor (more tang, less sweet).

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Portobello, Avocado, and Tomato Sandwich

It's funny how taste buds change with age. I never really cared for avocados as a child, I think probably because of the color coupled with the large pit, and my young palate certainly had no appreciation of its creamy texture. About a year ago I saw some small organic Haas avocados at the market where I shop. They were so beautiful that I decided I just had to bring one of them home for a try. Once in my mouth, my palate was pleasantly surprised by what the small, green fruit offered in both taste and texture, and my affection for Haas avocados has grown since.

Last week, I arrived home from the market with a sack full of gorgeous locally grown tomatoes, some beautiful portobello mushrooms, and a small, ripe Haas avocado. I decided to make the Roasted Portobello Mushroom recipe from Veganomicon and when I saw the serving suggestion at the end of the recipe, (with lettuce, tomato, and avocado on a sandwich), I just had to give it a try.

Although eating it was a bit messy, (fortunately it was photographed mid-assembly), boy did my mouth sing with joy. It was one of those meals that was so incredibly simple and beautiful, reminding me that some of the most satisfying food in the world does not involve a complicated recipe.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Summer Squash Pie - Veganized

Have you ever been so attached to something that you carry it around with you for years?

In the late 1980's, my mother cut out the Summer Squash Pie recipe pictured above from the "Cooking Light" section of Southern Living magazine. (This was before the Cooking Light magazine even existed.) I remember coming home to visit my parents during university summer break and my mother and I made this pie. It introduced me to the beautiful and delicious pattypan squash (pictured below) and soon became my favorite summer recipe.During the subsequent years I moved around a lot: to Virginia to work on a horse farm, to North Carolina for grad school, to Tampa to work, to Clearwater when I married, and to my current location when my husband decided to go back to school. I kept that recipe safely tucked away like a family jewel, bringing it out only during the summer months when the pattypan squash became plentiful at the farmer's market.

Two summers ago was my first vegan summer. I pulled out the recipe but then tucked it away again, vowing to make it at some point using tofu in place of the eggs called for in the original recipe. After reading about all of the success people were having with Susan V.'s tofu quiches on Fatfree Vegan Kitchen, I realized I needed to give my recipe a go using tofu once the pattypan squash became available. Several few weeks ago I gave it a try and the results were amazing. This recipe is another one that deserves fair warning on the delicious meter. I always eat at least half a pie in one sitting and for that reason, always double the recipe. Enjoy!

Summer Squash Pie

You will need one glass pie plate and a large pot for sauteeing the vegetables. You also need a food processor or blender to blend the tofu mixture.

7 small or 3 large pattypan squash, (1/2 pound), sliced 1/4 thick (across, not stem to navel)
olive oil spray
1/2 pound fresh spinach leaves, washed (I used prewashed baby spinach leaves)
1 medium size yellow squash, chopped
1 small or 1/2 large vidallia onion, chopped
1 small or 1/2 large red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 12 ounce pkg lite firm silken tofu, drained
1/4 cup soymilk (I use Edenblend rice soy beverage)
2 Tbs nutritional yeast
1 Tbs cornstarch
1 tsp tahini
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
3/4 teaspoon salt
vegan cheese slices (0ptional, I did not use any on the pie pictured)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

To begin, arrange your pattypan squash slices around the outside edges and bottom of your pie plate, cutting them to fit (see photo below). These will form your "crust". Spray your pot with olive oil, remove the slices from the pie plate and saute them 2 to 3 minutes on each side until tender and lightly browned. Spray your pie plate with oil and arrange the slices again in the pie plate as shown in the photo below.

Saute your spinach briefly until wilted. Remove from pan, drain any excess water and then roughly chop. Set aside.

Spray your pot again and saute the chopped yellow squash, bell pepper, and onion over medium high heat until tender. Remove from pot, reserving 1/4 of this mixture, and spooning the rest into the prepared pie plate.

In a food processor or blender, process the tofu, soymilk, nutritional yeast, cornstarch, tahini, turmeric, and salt until smooth. Add in the spinach and process briefly to combine or combine by hand in a separate bowl. Pour this mixture over the vegetables in the pie plate. Sprinkle with the reserved squash, bell pepper, onion mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for one hour. If you are using vegan cheese slices, cut them into strips and place them on top of your pie about 5 minutes before the pie is done.

For variation I have also made this pie using asparagus or kale instead of spinach, adding in sun dried tomatoes and kalamata olives. The combination of vegetables you use are really endless, so experiment a bit and let me know how it goes.